MANILA - Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Friday denied that the list of alleged personalities linked to the pork barrel scam is a form of leverage for pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.
Speaking to radio DZMM, de Lima said Napoles did not ask for anything when she gave the list of personalities who allegedly benefited from the priority development assistance funds (PDAF) scam.
She denied that Napoles gave the list in exchange for her continued stay at the Ospital ng Makati after undergoing an operation.
"Hindi naman po leverage yan kasi ano ba ang dahilan bakit siya nasa hospital ngayon? Dahil may karamdaman at kailangan ng medical prodecure at nagawa na ho yun. Actually yung pagkasabi niya sa akin, kaya pumayag na rin akong makipagkita sa kanya dahil sinasabi nga ho na ayaw magpa-opera na hindi niya ako nakakausap para masabi na niya yung gusto niyang masabi. Nangangamba siya na may mangyari, accidental, deliberate or not," she said in the interview.
Asked if the Napoles camp requested that she be allowed to stay longer in the hospital, de Lima said: "Wala naman silang rine-request sa amin, na tulungan kami, na dito muna kami."
There are actually three alleged lists of personalities being linked to the scam. One list was handed over by Napoles to de Lima, another list was given to former senator Panfilo Lacson by Napoles' husband while a third is allegedly in the hands of Whistleblowers Association of the Philippines president Sandra Cam.
Cam has refused to reveal the source of her list but warned that she will reveal all if she is pestered by government officials. Cam has asked the Supreme Court to stop alleged surveillance operations by government agents against her.
De Lima said she does not if the two other lists from Cam and Lacson match the one she has.
She reiterated that she will reveal the list but only after vetting the information. She said releasing the list prematurely, sans other evidence based on their own investigation, could raise more questions.
She said she doubts if lawmakers and other government officials linked to the corruption scandal would own up to their deeds.
"Ang sa tingin namin ay nararapat lang na meron kaming gawin na investigation...to try and verify either the truthfulness, the accuracy or the plausibility (of the list). We should be responsible enough and prudent enough na gawin ang makakaya para ma-verify at para hindi mag-cause ng confusion kasi siyempre yung mga nasa listahan na yan, I don't think may aamin po diyan. Posibleng meron pero may explanation. Posibleng wala," she said.
Asked about rumors that members of the executive are being linked to Napoles, she said: "If there are names from the executive and it is validated during the vetting process, I have no choice but to say it also na mukhang totoo...But you should understand, I cannot confirm or deny that at this point."